Falmouth primary governing body "failed" in handling of supply teacher agencies
A PRIMARY school at the centre of a storm of criticism following its damning Ofsted report is to become a sponsored academy, according to a statement issued this week.
Reports released by Cornwall Council after repeated media interest say the governing body of King Charles Primary School, in Falmouth, "failed" in its handling of supply teacher contractors while the head teacher was the director of a company which provided staff to the school.
Head teacher Heather Taylor, meanwhile, says only 27 per cent of the £223,000 paid by Cornwall Council to SupplyNet, of which she was a director along with her husband Ian, was for education services. SupplyNet also provided engineering consultancy services.
A heavily redacted internal audit investigation report into the conduct of Mrs Taylor was released on Tuesday. It was carried out in February 2011 but kept secret.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify 01209 860332 and present voucher on arrival
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Sunday, December 15 2013
It is critical of the school's governing body for failing to ensure "the best interests of the school were secured" in relation to its use of supply teacher agencies.
The school started hiring staff from SupplyNet in September 2009.
The report said: "The governing body failed to establish appropriate arrangements for the school to contract with parties where senior officers have a pecuniary interest."
"The governing body also failed to recognise the inadequacy of the evidence provided to them in their considerations of whether to whether to contract SupplyNet Limited."
The damning report criticises the school for its handling of a 'best value' review of supply staff contractors.
The review, conducted by the school's business manager in June 2010, compared SupplyNet with two other local companies, one of which had already provided "poor service" to the school.
The report said the school did not include any regional or national companies in the review, nor did it contact other schools to gauge their experiences.
The Best Value review found SupplyNet to be the cheapest and joint highest in seven qualitative categories and "took assurances" that this was a "sound case" for continuing to use SupplyNet.
"Flowing from this it is suggested that the school was naive in its belief that the review would provide sufficient evidence to confirm that the use of SupplyNet represented categorically the best value for money option," said the report.
The internal audit found the school had based its decision-making on "flawed" information.
The internal audit report criticised an earlier investigation into Mrs Taylor in July 2010 – also by Cornwall Council – as "not as robust" as the current one.
The initial investigation revealed governors were concerned about Mrs Taylor's potential conflict of interest.
But it was concluded that she had not acted in an "underhand or inappropriate manner".
The second internal audit report said: "In all likelihood the head teacher was acting with the best interests of the school in mind."
Following both investigations an independent team of governors concluded there had been "no gross professional misconduct" in relation to the recruitment of supply teachers.
The governors wrote to parents in July 2011 assuring them Mrs Taylor had "no case to answer".
Cornwall Council, the Diocesan Board of Education and the school's governing body said in a statement this week that it had received "a large number of questions" relating to the school's governance and financial management after the Ofsted inspection.
However, they were unable to answer all of the questions because the constitution of the governing body has changed significantly.
"As a result of these changes ... it has not proved possible to provide detailed responses to all the specific questions relating to the rationale for decisions taken prior to those changes," said the statement.